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09-13-2013, 09:55 PM   #1
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Tips and tricks on using a monopod

I am thinking of getting a monopod from my local shop. It's a $20 generic with three levels of extension. Can anyone offer some tips and tricks on how to best and effectively use a monopod? I know it sounds like a silly question but when I was playing with the monopod at my local shop I saw how it's best to lower the inner most level of extension first and then work my up to the outer most. Doing that allows me to easily adjust the height since the extension clamp is closest to me.

Thanks!

09-13-2013, 10:42 PM   #2
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For maximum stability use your legs + monopod like the three legs of a virtual tripod, i.e. plant the foot of the monopod about three or four feet in front of you and lean into it with your body and legs astride.

Unlike a tripod, a monopod/camera combo is easy to move as a unit -- no need to disassemble. When walking short distances with a camera/large lens still attached to a monopod, I shorten the monopod, sling the camera+lens over my left shoulder with the lens facing down my back and walk holding the whole assembly by gripping the monopod using my left hand (I'm right-handed).

I always wind the camera's own strap around my wrist when attached to a monopod, never round my neck. I also never use the monopod's strap or the strap of a large lens - I always just remove these because stray straps can snare themselves on objects such as branches or levers which will snatch the equipment from your grip.

EDIT: I forgot to add: The monopod compressed/contracted makes a wonderful steady camera grip. I grip the monopod using my left hand, use the view finder with my left eye, with my right hand fingers on the shutter release, AF and dials.

Last edited by Gray; 09-14-2013 at 05:59 AM.
09-13-2013, 11:33 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by 6BQ5 Quote
when I was playing with the monopod at my local shop I saw how it's best to lower the inner most level of extension first and then work my up to the outer most. Doing that allows me to easily adjust the height since the extension clamp is closest to me.
That is how it works best for me. Also, I prefer a tilt-only head for the monopod as it feels more stable than a ball head.
09-14-2013, 06:22 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by crewl1 Quote
That is how it works best for me. Also, I prefer a tilt-only head for the monopod as it feels more stable than a ball head.
I have the Giottos mini ball-head. The only thing I use it for on my monoopod is to switch orientation from landscape to portrait mode. Can you please tell us what tilt-only head you are using?

09-14-2013, 06:31 AM   #5
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Other monopod tips:
  • Use a quick release system.
  • You can use the monopod for your own stability on long walks. You don't have to put a bunch of weight on it. Ever noticed how much more stable you are if you are only touching a wall? And the monopod is then always ready for use.
  • Get a role of double-sided Velcro 'tape'. If you really need tripod stability for long exposures, you can use the Velcro tape to strap your monopod to a post, park bench, small tree, etc. - - - a ball head makes this especially handy.
  • Need to shoot over a crowd? Use a focal length slightly wider than the scene. Plant the foot of the monopod in the waist of your pants raising the camera up high. Fire the shutter using an IR remote release.
09-14-2013, 11:46 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by JimJohnson Quote
I have the Giottos mini ball-head. The only thing I use it for on my monoopod is to switch orientation from landscape to portrait mode. Can you please tell us what tilt-only head you are using?
I use this one. They also make version with a quick release.
Manfrotto 234 Monopod Tilt Head (Replaces 3232):Amazon:Camera & Photo
09-14-2013, 12:11 PM   #7
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I was afraid of that. I have a very sturdy Manfrotto 3006 monopod (I've had it for nearly 20 years and it has been all across North America, to Europe a few times and to South America). The cost of the Manfrotto tilt-head is 2/3 of the replacement cost of my monopod. I guess I will stick with the ball head for the time being. But thanks for providing the link.

09-15-2013, 08:13 AM   #8
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Thanks for all the replies and suggestions! I never thought about using a remote shutter release to "sneak a shot" over a crowd or maybe even around a corner. Now I have to get a monopod just for this alone!
09-15-2013, 08:40 AM   #9
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I used to use a monopod extensively, since they were very easy to schlep around the world, but just know....after the over-the-top-clinically-pathological-paranoia since Sept. 11 has caused all US airports, and most EU airports (but, few Asian airports...) to prohibit monopods as checked-in luggage. Apparently, it's a "weapon" (but interestingly, up to two golf clubs aren't).

Monopods are great, but not as great as a good tripod. Their benefit used to be that they were easier to travel with, alas, that benefit has all but vanished....
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